Thursday, September 9, 2021

Colleges, Israel, Mongolia and Covid

I have written before about the alarming number of confirmed Covid cases on college campuses which have mandated vaccinations for students, faculty and staff.

Duke University mandated the vaccine for all returning students in the Fall. It announced that it would terminate any employee who was not vaccinated by October 1 and that employee would never be allowed to work at Duke in the future.

When school started this Fall 98% of students were vaccinated. 92% of all employees were.

Since classes began students have been required to wear masks indoors and outdoors on campus. There is no indoor dining. Tents have been erected around campus for student meals.

Despite this, Covid cases at Duke are much higher than they were last year when no one was vaccinated.

Through September 6, Duke has had 736 positive cases since August when it started tracking cases for the Fall semester.


For the entire Fall semester last year of August 2-November 20 Duke had 241 cases when no one was vaccinated.


We see a similar situation at Cornell University. 

Cornell has 95% of its students, faculty and staff vaccinated.

Last year between September 1 and September 7 Cornell reported 62 positive cases of Covid.


This year Cornell reported 180 for the same period---three times the number last year when no one was vaccinated.


I thought I would compare these results with three colleges that at this time last year were dealing with huge Covid case surges to see how they are doing this year.

Last year the University of Georgia had 1,417 Covid cases reported in the first week of September.

This year Georgia had 91.

Interestingly, there has been a Covid outbreak among the University of Georgia football team and staff in the last week. All of the cases were among those who had been vaccinated. Head Coach Kirby Smart said this spike in cases was higher than it was anytime in the last year and a half for his team


During a teleconference with reporters Monday, Smart said three or four players will miss Saturday's game against the University of Alabama-Birmingham due to the coronavirus.

"For us, we're at our highest spike. And people are talking about vaccinations - well, these are people that are vaccinated. We're talking about breakthroughs, and so that concerns you not only for the players on your team that are unvaccinated, that are playing and not playing, because we want everybody to be safe," Smart said.

Last month, Smart said 90 percent of the team's players, staff members and coaches have been vaccinated against the virus, according to ESPN.

The University of Alabama had 2,378 Covid cases in the first three weeks of the Fall Semester in 2020 among students, faculty and staff.

In the first three weeks this year Alabama has had 416.

Alabama has a vaccination rate of 60% among its students.

My undergraduate alma mater, Miami University, had 1,084 Covid cases at this time last year despite the fact they were not even conducting in-person classes. However, many students were living in off campus housing and socializing when not doing online classes.

This year there are 88 cases (77 students and 11 staff) thru September 6, 2021 with in person classes and students living on campus.

Despite this, Miami is going to mandate vaccinations for the Second Semester  for all students, faculty and staff. Employees who are not vaccinated will be terminated. Students will not be allowed to enroll for the Winter Semester.

Is anyone else curious about what we are seeing in the data?

The colleges with low cases last year and vaccine mandates this year are seeing an explosion of cases right now.

The colleges with high cases last year and no vaccine mandates this year are seeing only a fraction of the cases they saw last year.

What is going on?

Could it be that natural infection has conveyed a much higher degree of immunity and protection against transmission to the community than the vaccines have?

Is this not similar to what we are seeing in comparing the experience of Sweden and Israel?

Sweden did no hard lockdowns, did not employ strict mask mandates and kept their schools open. They focused their efforts on protecting the most vulnerable. Israel did the opposite.

Israel also was a world leader in vaccinating its population. It is already well into distributing booster shots to its population.

Sweden was slower in rolling out vaccines but is now very close to Israel's numbers without considering the boosters.

Sweden was hit pretty hard in two separate earlier waves. However, Sweden has almost no cases of Covid right now while Israel is rising.

More importantly, Sweden has had almost no Covid deaths for the last two months while Israel has seen a sharp increase over the same time period.

Sweden may just be lucky right now and will soon see a seasonality surge as the weather turns colder in that country.

Israel may find its cases going the other way due to more seasonable temperatures in that country.

However, could it be possible that higher natural immunity in the colleges that bore the greatest brunt of the pandemic last year is keeping cases down this year much better than the vaccines are doing?

That may also be the reason that Sweden is faring better than Israel right now.

If you want one more mystery consider this one.

Mongolia was one of the few countries on the face of the earth that had almost no Covid cases for a year into the pandemic.

This chart shows cumulative cases from January 22, 2020 to February 1, 2021.

You can barely see Mongolia at the bottom of the graph.

In February, 2021 Mongolia started vaccinating its population. It has now vaccinated more people than most countries in the world.

Since then, Mongolia has gone from among the nations with the lowest incidence of Covid in the world to where it is now seeing more Covid cases than anywhere else in the world.

Almost all of these cases have arisen after they started the mass vaccination of their population.

There is only one country that is having an almost identical experience right now.


What is going on?

How could any of this occur if the vaccines were truly preventing disease and the transmission of the virus?

After seeing this data how do we know that the vaccines are not somehow facilitating the spread of the virus and the development of new variants?

Now consider that the President of the United States wants to mandate that almost every American must be vaccinated and he is going to put the POWER of the federal government (and the dollars it controls) to make sure it happens. 

Where in any of the data above does it suggest that this strategy is the best move now to curb the pandemic?

If this is supported by the SCIENCE why does the DATA not support the science?

If we only had someone who could answer the questions I pose in these pages!

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